Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Righting yourself

I love learning things as much as I love sharing things on my blog. So today I'm going to share a little and then hopefully learn something from my readers (I know you're out there!). ;-)

This morning I was plagued by strange dreams, and also memories of a gruesome musical in which I performed in grad school. I decided these were not good things to start my brain up with, especially since one of the dreams involved the class I was about to go teach. Things didn't end well in the dream and though I doubt they would've been repeated in my waking state, there's no use in taking chances, right?

So after my shower I put on the music with which I relax and clear my mind. It's an instrumental from the Stranger than Fiction soundtrack called "In Church," by M83. It's a little over 5 minutes and it's perfect. The goal is to get in a comfortable position, whether sitting or lying down (or even standing, I guess, if you like), and let your thoughts float by. You don't judge them as you name them and watch them go; you just notice them and don't let them affect you. It may sound cheesy or impossible or just plain stupid but it works for me.

I feel a little silly though because this morning when I stretched across my twin XL bed I had to work around a body pillow I sleep with. It was under the sheets and spread and I didn't feel like moving it all so I just laid around it. It was slightly awkward--I had one arm above my head and one at my side, one leg bent and the other straight. But I was comfortable, even though I was shaped exactly like a chalk outline of a dead person on a crime TV show. I came to that realization at the very end of the music and felt guilty; is it okay to laugh at the end of a relaxation session? I guess there's no right or wrong way...

So what do you do for relaxation? How do you step back, take 10, and get yourself right (or, at the very least, righter)? If you never do this, why not? Not having time is an unacceptable answer (I've used it)!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Music in Dreams

There was a song in my dream this morning. I'm sure that's happened to some of you before. But do you remember the song when you wake up? With perfect detail? This happens to me maybe once every 2-3 years or so and usually the song fades away as soon as I start waking up.

But this morning was different. The song stuck with me, even became clearer. It's like it wanted me to write it down. Usually I convince myself that the song isn't new. I must have heard it before; it's like a combo between that Sting song you heard last week and the Richard Marx song the radio played before you went to bed, right? Even though I always think I'm being too hard on myself I rarely write the tunes--or words, because sometimes words come along too--down.

I laid in bed going over the tune in my head, remembering the chords. I finally came to the conclusion This song isn't going to leave me alone until I write it down. Goodbye, warm sheets. As I wrote down the chords and spelled out the melody I realized that there were also some sentence fragments attached. I wrote those down, too. It's still fuzzy to me right now, but not fuzzy as in not clear. Fuzzy as in confusing. Why in the world is this tune different? Does this happen to people often? Any type of musician? Or just songwriters? Is this one of the ways your muse can speak to you? Just waking up with a tune in your head, one that won't let you be? It's never happened to me quite like this, and I definitely don't consider myself a songwriter.

I guess I should tell you what was happening in the dream. Parts of it were the usual fare for a Robyn Dream (TM pending): One minute I'm trying to fix the time on my phone alarm clock and it's giving me all these weird time zone options I've never heard of...I also can't get it to just tell me the regular old, current time. Another minute I'm in a huge housewares store with my parents and, the way Mom was standing in front of the ceiling fan section, it looked like she had ceiling fans for earrings. I was about to chastise her because she didn't take the packaging off of her earrings before she put them on, though I was also wondering why ceiling fan earrings would have to be so authentic that they came in packaging.

But the last part of the dream, and the source of this song, is the most important part (IMHO). I was hanging out with a group of people (maybe friends?) and we were walking through a city at night. Probably a downtown parking area because it was a kind of rundown garage, with graffiti and trash that the rain had washed away from other places and no one had bothered to clean up. I was going up the stairs with a dark-haired guy (Richard Marx, LOL? I don't know; we'll call him Dick) when the trash got a little out of hand. I asked him if he'd mind clearing it away for me; maybe my hands were full or maybe I was testing him. Whatever the reason he obliged. I think I did help a bit because when we got to the top of the steps we found a large, round mesh trash bin and we both dumped a bunch of papers and things in there. In my haste to abandon the waste (I totally didn't mean to rhyme that but I'm leaving it there!) I accidentally dropped some paper I meant to hold on to. Dick asked what it was and I explained slowly that I'd written down how I felt about him, how he made me feel, and that the piece of paper was now lost to that rainy mess of refuse.

I was sad because I'd have to pour my heart out again at some point. But then someone started singing. We were at the top of the parking area and people were milling about on the white-lined pavement. I think some people had made fires in trash containers and others were warming themselves. As I strolled around such a dark, rainy scene this man accompanied himself on guitar and spun a beautiful song using the words I'd written; the words no one had seen before I accidentally discarded them. Yet he knew them. He knew my heart's melody and was singing it for me, weaving in amazing arpeggio harmonies with his instrument. "Who am I?" he asked. "Who am I to feel this way about you, when I'm sure countless others feel or have felt the same?"

I can still hear his deep, baritone voice singing my words. It's haunting and rather disconcerting. How does my subconscious do these things while I sleep? And what does it mean?